Screenshot from video inside a lockdown room at the U.S. Capitol, where many lawmakers refused to wear masks. Three Democrats who were in the room have since tested positive for COVID-19. (Source: Punchbowl News)
WASHINGTON—The leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said Tuesday that she has tested positive for COVID-19, and blamed Republicans who refused to wear masks in a secure room where lawmakers were kept during the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-Wash.), said those Republicans “mocked colleagues and staff” who offered them masks. “Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,” she said in a statement.
Jayapal is the third member of Congress to test positive following the lockdown in the secure room. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) also announced Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-N.J.), announced Monday on Twitter that she tested positive for COVID-19. Jayapal and Schneider said they are currently at home isolating.
Coleman said she went to a local hospital for antibody treatment, which was recommended by her doctor.
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday chastised GOP lawmakers for refusing to wear masks while they were held in a safe location as a violent mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol last week.
As lawmakers waited for law enforcement to secure the Capitol on Wednesday, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) went around a packed room passing out masks to people without them, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“When they were hiding from the mob, she was going around trying to hand out masks to everybody,” Biden said to a group of reporters. “And her Republican colleagues wouldn’t wear a mask. I think it’s irresponsible.”
In a video obtained by Punchbowl News, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Michael Cloud (R-Texas), were all not wearing masks, and they turned down the disposable masks that Rochester was offering.
“It’s not a political issue,” Biden said. “It’s an issue of public safety.”
There were nearly 100 people in the room, according to multiple media reports.
“While I was disappointed in my colleagues who refused to wear a mask, I was encouraged by those who did,” Rochester wrote on Twitter Friday. “My goal, in the midst of what I feared was a super spreader event, was to make the room at least a little safer.”
Jayapal called for members who refused to wear masks to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.
“This is not a joke,” she said. “Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk, and anyone who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy.”
More than 22.5 million Americans are infected with COVID-19 and more than 375,000 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S.
The attending physician of the Capitol, Dr. Brian Monahan, also raised concerns to lawmakers about possible COVID-19 exposures from the rioters last week.
Coleman said she decided to get tested after she had to stay in the room with Republicans who did not wear masks. Coleman is a cancer survivor.
“I received a positive test result for COVID-19, and am home resting at this time,” she said in a statement. “While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents.”
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) also announced that he and another lawmaker he lives with tested positive for COVID-19.
“I currently feel okay and remain in contact with the Attending Physician,” he said in a statement. “I again, want to urge all Americans to continue to wear masks, practice proper hygiene, and follow CDC guidance as we work to combat COVID-19.”